Technology to Improve Our Lives

There are three separate categories of innovation: The first ranges from fun to mindless such as gaming mobile apps like Angry Birds. The second category includes technology that improves our lives, but doesn’t solve our most pressing issues. Innovations such as drones, Uber/Lyft transportation, socialized TV viewing and advanced GPS technology. These make our lives easier but we could live without them. The third is technology that will solve the greatest ills of the 21st century.
Sex slavery is the fastest growing crime in the world and less than 1% of the victims are identified. 25-year-old twin sisters America and Penelope Lopez together with a couple other developers and Gimbal’s iBeacon technology have been used to alert law enforcement when a woman is being taken as a sex slave. The small beacons are hidden in tampons and sanitary napkins that will be available in women’s restrooms. Restrooms are described as the only place where these victims are alone. The next version of Beacon of Hope will allow a victim to simply make a hand gesture in front of the beacon dispensary to alert law enforcement.
Medisafe is the leading cloud-synced mHealth platform helping patients stay on top of their many medications. It makes it simple to adhere to the most complicated medication schedules, enables care collaboration between a patient, their loved ones and physicians, and delivers content and services personalized to specific conditions and situations. Additionally, it recently began offering the Medfriend social support feature on medication adherence. A study showed that 40% of previously non-adherent users (taking their medications less than 80% of the time) became adherent (taking their medications at least 80% of the time) after adding a Medfriend. The Medfriend feature was integral within Medisafe from the beginning, since a double dose of insulin threatened the health of founders Omri and Rotem Shor’s father.
Brandon Dorris teamed up with Finger Food Studios of Vancouver to put together TeamGHS (Global Human Sustainability) and set out to create a way for families to incentivize their recycling initiatives. The team created Robby the Robot. The robot’s eyes appear on a tablet that sits on top of a garbage can. Its sensors determine how much of the intended product was recycled and gives credit to the family member who disposed of it. Residents of the home can compete with each other to see who recycles the most in any time period, but one of the great features of TeamGHS’s project is that households can compete with other families within their neighborhood too. This socialized recycle program takes advantage of AT&T’s data rewards and sponsored data, giving out free mobile data for those who recycle the most.
A new free mobile app called Companion and created by a group of five students at the University of Michigan allows loved ones to track the user’s journey. If you’re walking through a dark parking garage, through downtown late at night, or in a dangerous area, you can give permission to a friend or relative to track you. The companion receives an SMS text request to be a companion with a link. This pulls up a map and you can track the voyage through GPS. The app uses the phone’s built-in sensors to detect changes in the user’s movement — sudden running or if the headphones come out of the phone’s jack. That sudden change will cause the app to ask for confirmation that the user is OK. If they don’t respond within 15 seconds, the app notifies the companion who has the option to call the police. At the same time, the app will also go into alert mode for the walker, emitting siren-like noises and displaying a button to also call the police.
What if a mobile app could screen for symptoms of autism by reading children’s facial expressions for emotional cues. The app offers a series of questionnaires to children and has them watch short videos designed to make them smile, laugh and be surprised. Parents use a smartphone’s user-facing “selfie” camera to record their children’s facial movements for evaluation by doctors, researchers and software. This inexpensive form of diagnosis isn’t ready to take the place of more in-depth identification of autism, but it’s moving in that direction. Lack of emotion and social sharing are possible characteristics of childhood autism so the app tracks the child’s response to stimuli including funny videos. Future uses of this important technology include diagnosing the conditions suffered by war-fighters, including PTSD and depression.

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